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City of Tulsa developing cycling safety education campaign funded by scooter license fees

Matt Trotter

A quick Tulsa traffic quiz: Are drivers allowed to use bicycle lanes as turn lanes? How much room must drivers give when passing a cyclist?

The City of Tulsa is developing a public education campaign so more people know the answers to those questions. (No, drivers can't use bicycle lanes as turn lanes, and they must give cyclists 3 feet while passing them.)

The city’s communications department presented plans for the $61,500 campaign to the city council last week. Graphic designer Lathen Kamas said the goal is reminding people bicycles aren’t impeding traffic, they’re included in traffic.

"And it’s trying to find ways to make that clear, that these are not separate things that are competing with each other, these are all part of the same, working through the same space that they all have the same rights to," Kamas said.

Plans include infographics to plaster on buses and bus shelters, post on billboards, and share on social media to make people more aware of city ordinances related to cycling and how drivers must interact with cyclists.

Councilor Kara Joy McKee said it’s an important initiative for her district, which includes 3 miles of 11th Street that have been restriped to have one lane of vehicle traffic and a bicycle lane in both directions.

"I really want the people in the cars to know that we want the bicycles off the sidewalks to make the sidewalks safe for the pedestrians and the people in wheelchairs. I want everybody to really see that this is a shared traveling experience, and I think you all are really aiming in that direction," McKee said.

City Councilor Mykey Arthrell-Knezek said he generally supports the campaign.

"I can’t help but think when I look at this, though, that those who ride bikes is the intended audience, and a whole lot of people who ride bikes are kids. And a lot of the messaging and all of the things here does not seem to be targeting children," Arthrell-Knezek said.

The funding comes from license fees electric scooter companies pay to the city, 60% of which may be used on public education initiatives. The $61,500 being talked about specifically must be spent by the end of June 2022.

The council will be asked to approve a budget amendment for the campaign later this month.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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